GAME 71: Royal Ass Whoopin’
A newly-reunited Cardinal lineup massacred the Royals in convincing fashion.The offensive explosion supported a solid Joe Kelly, as the Cardinals (36-35) gained some measure of revenge for last week’s embarrassment with a 11-4 crushing of the Royals at beautiful Kauffman Stadium. RECONSTRUCTION: Do you think having Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter back from the disabled list was important? The pair went 3-5 with four runs scored in their first game back. Their inclusion seemed to relax the team, and the lineup really clicked once more. Jay helped Furcal in front of him, and the extra baserunners provided Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran with plenty of RBI chances. Everybody had a bit of that April swagger. Could this be a resurgence?
GROWING UP FAST: Young Joe Kelly isn’t scaring anybody with his stuff. I occasionally worry about Kelly throwing his cute fastball bellybutton-high. But what the kid lacks in pure ability he compensates with courage and an unflappable determination. Watching him, you’d never guess he has just three major league starts on his resume. And now he has his first major league win.
WARMING TREND: About two weeks ago it looked like David Freese was starting to come out of his offensive funk. Then, he went cold again, grounding into more double plays than a crippled Albert Pujols. But Freese looked alive tonight, with a 2-3 performance and two RBI. Hopefully with the additional offense Freese can relax a bit and regain a consistent stroke.
AGGRESSION: During the long stretch of meek offense, the Cardinals looked like a La Russa team; they spent way too much time standing around on bases waiting for a home run. But tonight the Cards returned to the aggressive style of play that earmarked their April surge. For instance, as the Cards piled on runs in the first, Yadier Molina and David Freese (the two slowest position players since Ryan Howard tore his Achilles tendon) pulled off a double steal. The Royals looked baffled by the sudden, unexpected move. THAT is the kind of stuff I’ve missed lately from this team.
INSPIRED: Do you think Carlos Beltran wants to win the Series this year? He’s doing everything in his power to make it happen. Beltran went an eye-opening 2-4 with 4 RBI and two runs scored. I think he also went into the clubhouse and washed uniforms in between innings. Can we give this guy a raise?
ROTTEN SALAS: With a blow out game covering him, Fernando Salas was brought in to get three insignificant outs. Then he started getting too fine with his pitches, and he suddenly found himself with a run allowed and two on with two outs. What’s wrong with this guy?
PLAYER OF THE GAME: A tie between Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter. Welcome back! You were obviously missed!
CONCLUSION: I don’t think anyone doubted the effect injuries played in the recent downturn, but the remaining team looked solid enough. Still, as tonight showed, losing key people deflates a team and makes it lethargic and unresponsive. If we get this kind of boost from these guys, just wait until Carp and Berk come back next month!